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When Robin Lehner speaks, it pays to listen



Robin Lehner Vegas Golden Knights

In the nearly two-plus years Robin Lehner has been a member of the Vegas Golden Knights, one thing has become clear — when Lehner has something on his mind and decides to share his thoughts with the world, it’s usually worth paying attention.

His current coach, Peter DeBoer, called him the most interesting player he has ever coached. Captain Mark Stone said Lehner has a lot of interesting things to say on a lot of topics.

The veteran goaltender landed on the Barstool Sports Spittin’ Chiclets Podcast, hosted by former NHLers Ryan Whitney and Paul Bissonnette, earlier this week and weighed in on a number of things. Free wheeling doesn’t do the discussion justice.

Here are some of the highlights from the 1 hour, 20 minute chat Lehner had Monday:

On embracing his “Panda” nickname: “It’s pretty simple, I watched Kung Fu Panda with my son-in-law a lot in Chicago and the whole thing about it, this fat bear who moves around and I saw myself in it. He learned how to do Kung Fu and I’m a big fat goalie in the NHL.”

On mental health issues being addressed: “Nothing’s changed (from the NHL). I try to be optimistic about it. But I’m also realistic about it. It starts at the top. They’re not helping the actual stigma. If you’re open about it, you’re going to get punished by society. We all struggle with mental health issues at times and if it grows, it can become serious.” 

On the “Snakes in the Pool” story: “It was true. Reavo (Ryan Reaves) is scared of snakes. (Mark) Stone was having a party at his house and it’s a really nice house. But over the fence is some desert so I figured I’d try to find some snakes to scare Reavo and I didn’t find any. But apparently a few showed up at Stone’s house a week later.”

On going to the Sahara Desert this summer: “I went on a little bit of a road trip with some friends. We were in Eastern Europe for a little bit and we went to Serbia, then we went to Morocco. Went to Casablanca for a couple of days. We took beach buggies in the desert to this camp. It takes five hours to get there but it’s pretty nice. Way better than I thought. Did some camel riding. It was a nice mental break after all the craziness the last few years. It was good to mentally recharge and not worry about anything.” 

On losing to the Canadiens in the Final Four: “You’ve got to give Montreal credit. The league is so even these days. Everyone is so good. We expected more. But Montreal played really well defensively and it sucks, second year in the conference final and we couldn’t get over the hump.” 

On the goalie rotation with Marc-Andre Fleury last year: “I’ve been in tandems, I’ve played with good goalies many times. I think a lot of it was Vegas being a new hockey city and what Fleury meant to the town, the narrative the media created made it a lot harder. I would lie if I said it didn’t effect me. But I’m good at turning that into motivation and positive things. Yeah, it was pretty crazy. But me and Fleury had a good relationship.” 

On the pressure of being the No. 1 goalie for the Knights this season: “It’s definitely there. I know if I don’t win, I’m gone. My goal is to win a Stanley Cup.”

On his dislike of shootouts: “I hate that I can’t save them. I think the shootout’s crazy. If there wasn’t a shootout, I’d probably still be in Buffalo, honestly. I have the worst record in NHL history in shootouts. I’m actually proud of that fact at least I have one record.”   

On embracing social media: “I think we’re missing out so much on fans’ revenue because we’re all boxed in to the space. We’re all robots. We all say the same thing. We have platforms and my platform, I use it a lot and I like to put the truth out there. When I see something happen, I mention it because I want change.” 

On favorite fast food chain: “I started liking Smashburger since I got to Vegas. Smashburger is good. I don’t say no to any fast food. Chipotle is good too.”

On his time playing for the Islanders: “That probably saved everything for me. The whole Long Island experience, they were great. The Long Island fans saved my life. That’s why I have a Long Island tattoo on my neck. We related to each other. They made me love hockey again.”

Listen to the entire interview here: